Dane County’s chief prosecutor has given a state appeals court a second reason to keep blocking the new law that limits collective bargaining by public unions. Ismael Ozanne filed a second brief Wednesday which said a legislative committee and the Senate acted unconstitutionally when they approved the bill on March 9, because public access to the Capitol was extremely limited that night.
The Constitution says “the doors of each house shall be kept open except when the public welfare shall require secrecy.”
Republicans have said the Capitol had enough public access, and they followed all legislative rules on giving public notice. But Ozanne said the conference panel broke the Open Meeting Law by not giving adequate notice.
Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi is holding up the adoption of the union bargaining limits until she can decide if the meeting law was violated. The state Justice Department has asked the appeals court to throw out Sumi’s restraining order, thus allowing the new law to take effect.
Several unions asked for permission Wednesday to file a brief encouraging that the law remain blocked. The appellate court has said not said when it might rule on the matter. Meanwhile, Ozanne has expanded his complaint to include the entire Legislature as defendants in his Open Meeting case. Previously, only four Republicans were named.
Lawmakers are immune from legal action while they’re in session. But Ozanne said Democratic minority leaders Peter Barca in the Assembly and Mark Miller in the Senate have waived their immunity. Still, the D.A. says he won’t ask to fine them, since Barca objected to the vote and Miller wasn’t there.